Free Shakespeare from Canada

Shakespeare from the Stafford Festival on Line

Free during the long social distancing season

Did William Shakespeare really write the masterpiece King Lear while under quarantine during the plague year 1606? Yes, along with other great plays like Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Starting the previous year people were expected to remain in their London homes except when genuine need forced them to seek food for medicine. Sound familiar? Just like now, it helped save countless lives.

The Shakespeare Festival of Stratford, Ontario is offering free viewings of twelve films beginning with King Lear. It started on April 23, but I only know learned of this. So here is the schedule

“Each will debut with a 7:00 p.m. viewing party and will be available free-of-charge for three weeks afterwards on the Stratford Festival website.”

https://www.stratfordfestival.ca/

Coriolanus debuts today! Lear remains available through May 14.

stratford festival free shakespeare onemanz.com COVID-19 soical distancing

The films have received four Canadian Screen Awards and 16 nominations, including Best Performing Arts Program for King Lear.

The schedule is as follows:

King Lear: April 23 to May 14

Coriolanus: April 30 to May 21

Macbeth: May 7 to 28

The Tempest: May 14 to June 4

Timon of Athens: May 21 to June 11

Love’s Labour’s Lost: May 28 to June 18

Hamlet: June 4 to 25

King John: June 11 to July 2

Pericles: June 18 to July 9

Antony and Cleopatra: June 25 to July 16

Romeo and Juliet: July 2 to 23

The Taming of the Shrew: July 9 to 30

 

More Information Here

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Shakespeare to watch at home that is absolutely thrilling!

See clips of recommended watching below

Four-hundred and four years ago today, the world lost William Shakespeare. And if it weren’t for a small group of dedicated friends and colleagues half of the known plays he wrote would have been lost forever. Since the drama, comedy, and history that is the NFL draft starts tonight, I am putting off my Will Fest a day or two. But I will be watching the following this weekend.
 
Mark Rylance’s all-male production of “Twelfth Night”, the stage production from the Globe Theater, Ian McKellen’s “Richard III” set in a 1930s England beset with Fascism, and Kenneth Brannah’s lavishly adorned “Hamlet. Marvelous stuff! And you can see some short clips of them below.
 
And here is a list of the plays that were only known because of the First Folio that his friend published in the poet’s honor:
 
All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Coriolanus
Cymbeline
Henry VI, Part One
Henry VIII (All is True)
Julius Caesar
King John
Macbeth
Measure for Measure
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale
 
Amazing, really.
Check out this opening sublime sequence of Ian McKellen’s 1930s Fascist version of Shakespeare’s Richard III. A $3 HD rental on Amazon, or free on YouTube.
And this glimpse of the lavish spectacle of Kennith Brannah’s Hamlet. Free on Amazon!
And Mark Rylance’s hilarious all-male cast of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Available for the U.K. on line https://globeplayer.tv/videos/twelfth-night
And available DVD for the U.S. and worth every farthing!

Milton on Shakespeare? Literally!

Milton’s hand-annotated copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio found in Pennsylvania

Wishful thinking? Or the real deal?

As announced on 9 September in the blog for the Centre for Material Texts at Cambridge (England,) it has been discovered that the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s works housed at the Free Library of Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) may have once belonged to John Milton, the other immortal lion of English literature, who was 7 years of age when the Bard of Avon died. If confirmed it is one of the greatest discoveries of its kind.

A paradise of Shakespearean scholarship lost but now found?

This classic British detective story begins with an article written by an American college professor, Claire M. L. Bourne, of Penn State University, which appears in the 2019 volume, Early Modern English Marginalia. CMT Director Jason Scott-Warren was impressed with Bourne’s analysis of “highly unusual” annotations left by a writer of exceptional learning who was obviously familiar with Shakespeare’s literary sources, as well as versions of his plays published individually before and just after his death in 1606. The physical evidence suggests the handwritten notes were added between 1625 and 1660.

But the evidence that made Scott-Warren guess the hand was the same that wrote Paradise Lost was purely palaeographical – it looked like Milton’s handwriting.

He goes on to provide photographic comparisons between writing in the Folio and writing in other books believed to have belonged to Milton.

milton shakespeare compare

Scott-Warren is quick to downplay his discovery as possible wishful thinking. But he adds postscripts saying he has received support by various scholars who are convinced he is correct. And he includes additional hi-res photography provided by Associate Professor Bourne in support of his hypothesis.

But I feel the contextual evidence is also compelling. Who other than Milton would have corrected the printer’s spelling of an obscure herb with the spelling found in Milton’s nephew’s book?

milton shakespeare compare herb reference

“If this book is what I think it is, it’s quite a big deal, …” Jason Scott-Warren allows himself to admit with typical English reserve, “… since Shakespeare was, as we know, a huge influence on Milton. The younger poet paid tribute to his forebear in an epitaph published in the Second Folio of 1632, in which he testified to the ‘wonder and astonishment’ that Shakespeare created in his readers.”

The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Book Department also owns copies of the Second, Third, and Fourth Folios, which were published in later years and include other plays attributed to Shakespeare, although all but one, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, have been disqualified by modern scholarship. The Second Folio even contains a poem now assigned to Milton. The Library’s folios are all in the original bindings and were donated in the 1940s by a philanthropic family who had made similar lavish donations to that same institution since the late 1800s.

milton shakespeare first folio milton shakespeare folios philadelphia

Mankind was fortunate that Shakespeare’s fellow actors collected and published the plays of the First Folio seventeen years after his death, as eighteen of these important works might otherwise have been lost to history.

It is also interesting how many of these plays were published previously in smaller volumes, called quartos because the sheets of paper are printed with four pages on each side before being cut to fit into the binding. Some quartos are considered legitimate, and some are counterfeits put out at a time when the playwright’s work was considered exclusive property that one must pay to see performed.

Bad_quarto,_good_quarto,_first_folio

photo: Wikipedia

And Milton, if he is the annotator in question, was familiar with some of these texts and includes references or entire passages not printed in the First Folio. Whoever they were, they knew their Shakespeare cold.

After the blog post appeared, many other scholars have come forward in support of this new discovery. From the Guardian:

“Not only does this hand look like Milton’s, but it behaves like Milton’s writing elsewhere does, doing exactly the things Milton does when he annotates books, and using exactly the same marks,” said Dr Will Poole at New College Oxford. “Shakespeare is our most famous writer, and the poet John Milton was his most famous younger contemporary. It was, until a few days ago, simply too much to hope that Milton’s own copy of Shakespeare might have survived — and yet the evidence here so far is persuasive. This may be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times.”

And that is pretty darn cool.

Read Jason Scott-Warren’s revelatory blog post HERE

Suggested Reading:

Merlin Fragments Discovered – predate known English versions

Directors Discuss Tennessee Williams, America’s greatest playwright

Pinter’s No Man’s Land is still peopled by the good ghosts

Mark Rylance doing what he does best

Mark you this Rylance

In the quirky revealing of his own brilliance, he hoists the banner of long-dead Shakespeare, and how that genius has managed to burst from his own time to enrich so many other times with his written way of piercing to the very heart of what it is to be human. And few have so brought down the high and mighty to show the fragile facade they live behind, like said Mark.

When is his knighthood to arrive? Long over due if you ask me.